Maritime Work Accidents and Falling Overboard By Michael Shelton on July 19, 2020

Maritime workersWork accidents are a leading cause of personal injury in the United States. Maritime workers are particularly prone to workplace accidents. Unpredictable seas along with the many hazards of a maritime vessel make injuries and accidents more likely.

One of the greatest risks for maritime workers is a fall overboard. Maritime work accidents resulting in falling overboard can cause catastrophic injuries or death. If the accident was the result of negligence, employers should be held liable for accident damages. Maritime attorney Michael E. Shelton can help maritime work accident victims from the Houston, TX area fight to get the financial compensation they are due for their losses.

Causes of Maritime Accidents

Maritime vessels are full of potential hazards. Ropes, slippery surfaces, constant motion, surrounding water, and inclement weather all pose threats to workers and passengers onboard. Employers who operate a business on a maritime vessel are responsible for ensuring that their ship is safe to operate, or seaworthy. 

While some maritime accidents are unavoidable, many are the result of negligence. Conditions that can cause a maritime accident include:

  • Missing safety equipment, such as handrails and life jackets
  • Unreasonably slippery surfaces
  • Low gunwales (side edges of a boat)
  • Loose or protruding hardware or equipment
  • Obstructed decks
  • Insufficient training for crew members
  • Defective boat design or defective parts or equipment

Injuries from Falling Overboard

Falling overboard is the most dangerous type of maritime accident. All crew members on a boat should be properly trained on how to respond when an individual falls overboard, so that they can retrieve the person as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, weather, rough seas, and other conditions can complicate a rescue mission. 

The injuries sustained in a fall overboard can vary based on the height that the person falls from, whether their body strikes anything while they are falling, the conditions of the water when they fall, and the amount of time they are in the water. Injuries that may be sustained by our Houston clients who experience a fall overboard include:

  • Concussions
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Hypothermia
  • Death

Liability for Maritime Work Accidents

If our Houston clients are injured in a maritime work accident that is the result of negligence, they have a right to sue their employer for all resulting accident damages. The Jones Act is a federal law that holds maritime employers responsible for maintaining vessels that are seaworthy. If the vessel is not safe, and an accident occurs, the employer should be held liable. In these types of cases, employers can be found accountable for accident injuries and losses even if they were not aware that the vessel was unsafe.

Accident damages that should be covered by a liable employer include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Lost wages or a loss of wage earning potential

Contact Michael E. Shelton

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a maritime work accident that resulted in a fall overboard, attorney Michael E. Shelton can help you explore your right to financial compensation for accident damages. To discuss your accident with our legal team, send us a message at your earliest convenience or call (713) 807-0700.

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